BJP chief Amit Shah has made it clear that Odisha governed by Mr Patnaik since 2000, is a vital component of his agenda to expand the BJP's reach in the eastern part of the country.
In February, the BJP placed an impressive second in local body elections across the state, displacing the Congress as the state's main opposition party. Two months later, the BJP held a two-day meeting of its top leaders in Bhubaneswar in a show of strength which also doubled up as an appeal to the people. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Mr Shah held roadshows as they drove from the airport, surrounded by cheering supporters, to the venue of the meeting.
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